Are my court records open to the public?
Yes, court records are generally open to the public.
Each county’s Circuit Clerk keeps the court records, and the law requires that these records be open to the public. Each court case has its own file. You can:
- Look in the court file and read any documents that have been filed (for example the Complaint or order); or
- Look up what happened on court dates. These are called "docket entries," and include notes by the judge on what happened at court that day.
What court records are not open to the public?
Juvenile records and adoption records are not open to the public.
Other court cases can also be sealed if the judge is convinced there is a good reason not to let the public access them.
How do I find a court record?
You can find a public court record by:
- Going to the Clerk's office at the courthouse where the court case was filed and giving the Clerk the case number and ask to see the case file; or
- In some counties, going online to the Clerk's website.
If you do not know the case number, most clerks have computers that allow you to search by the Plaintiff’s or the Defendant’s name. Once you have the case number, the Clerk can then get the court file for you.
If the Clerk does not have a computer, you can look in the Clerk’s ledger book under the Plaintiff’s or the Defendant’s name.
For the addresses of Clerk's Offices in each Illinois county, see the Illinois Court's website.
In some counties, you can find a public court record by searching online. Many Clerk's offices post court records online that you can check from the internet. They can tell you basic information about the parties and the docket entries, which tell you what happened in the case on each court date.
You usually won’t be able to read the documents that have been filed if you are searching online. However, the docket entries will have the information you want to know, like whether someone has been sued or evicted before.
How do I search court records online?
Depending on what county the court case was in, there are different websites you may use. Judici.com offers online court records for over 60 counties in Illinois. Several counties that have their own search websites.
To use Judici.com:
- Go to the Judici.com website.
- Look to see if your county is listed in the pull-down menu.
- If your county is listed, select your county and click “Go.”
- You can:
- Search by case number if you know the entire case number.
- Search by name in the following format: last name, first name middle initial (for example, "Doe, John M").
- Click “search.”
- If there are any results, click on the case number to see information about the case.
- The “information” tab gives you necessary information about the case.
- The “dispositions” tab tells you what the result of the case was.
- The “history” tab tells you what happened in the case on each court date.
- The “payment” tab tells you if any payments related to the case have been made, like bond in a criminal case
- The “fines and fees” tab tells you if the court fees have been paid.
You may also find court records on your county clerk's website:
- Chicago and Cook County (not criminal): Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court's website.
- Champaign County: Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s website.
- DeKalb County: DeKalb County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Kendall County: Kendall County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Kankakee County: Kankakee County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Lake County: Lake County Circuit Clerk's website.
- LaSalle County: LaSalle County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Madison County: Madison County Circuit Clerk's website.
- McHenry County: McHenry County website. Click on "Search my court case."
- McLean County: McLean County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Sangamon County: Sangamon County Circuit Clerk's website.
- St. Clair County: St. Clair County Circuit Clerk's website.
- Will County: Will County Circuit Clerk's website. Click on "Online Case Lookup."
- Winnebago County: Winnebago County Circuit Clerk's website.
Do I have to pay for court records?
Most court records are free to the public. Many counties also make their court records available for free online.
However, a few counties charge a fee to get the records online. You may also have to pay to make any photocopies of the records.
There is a charge to get federal court records through the PACER website.
Updated: October 2016